Andre “Mac Dre” Hicks was one of the original advocates for the HYPHY movement. Throughout his rap career he worked with the likes of Snoop Dog, Warren G, E-40, Too $hort, YUKMOUTH, MAC Mall, Dubee, Ice Cube, Andre Nickatina, & Keak Da Sneak. Mac Dre released his 1st single in 1989, Too Hard For the (FUCKING) Radio, which is hands down my personal favorite. He completed 3 records from 89’ to 91’; two of those records are Young Black Brotha: EP & California Livin’. Soon after the albums were completed Mac Dre was charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery.
There is a lot of speculation & controversy surrounding his arrest. In the early ‘90s in Vallejo, CA, a few pizza parlors & banks were included in a string of robberies. Apparently the FBI & police “had reason to believe” criminals known as the Romper Room Gang were behind the robberies. Mac Dre was known for his raps about the “Romper Room” & on the back of some CDs he gave shouts out to the “Romper Room Family.” Dre’s infamous track “Punk Police” also drew in the heat, it spoke on the robberies & even called out a police officer. The feds believed that even if Dre was not partaking in the robberies, he indeed knew who the robbers were because they were all from the same hood, The Crest. They also believed that the money from the robberies were to fund the production company & provide subject matter for their raps. Since Mac Dre was on his way up this attracted a lot of unwanted attention from the police. Dre countered by declaring the song “Punk Police” was about the fact that all young black men in Vallejo were suspected criminals according to police. Dre also clarified “ROMP” was a slang term used in the “V” (Vallejo) & everyone was speaking on the The Romper Room Bank robberies he was just giving his 2 cents. This did not detour Johnny Law from the investigation. After trailing Dre & his crew the cops finally arrested him. He was on a trip with J Diggs & Kilo of the Romper Room Gang. Dre stayed in the hotel while his homies went to handle their business. When Kilo & J Diggs arrived at the bank they noticed a TV crew was posted outside. They got spooked & bailed. They returned to the hotel picked up Dre, & that’s when five oh swarmed in to arrest all of them. There was a rat with them & he was wired. The rat allegedly got incriminating recordings to convict them. All Dre had to do was identify who the robbers were to get out of being prosecuted, but Dre kept his mouth shut.
While incarcerated Dre did an interview to try & clear himself, also to make known the police had a “witness” lying against him. The interview Dre did while awaiting trial was with KMEL Radio’s very popular anti-gang program “Street Soldiers”. The very next day the FBI stormed the station creating terror in the staff, accusing them of trying to get the case thrown out & their witness killed. They continued telling the station that the interview was unauthorized & there would be no more live interviews with Dre from prison. By 1992 Mac Dre was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Kilo received 8 years & J Diggs served 10.
Even though the FBI banned Mac Dre from live interviews, this was not about to stop his roll. He continued making music rapping over beats on the phone from prison. These songs were later released on Young Black Brotha: The Album, not to be confused with an earlier EP also called Young Black Brother. Mac Dre was released from prison in 1996.
Info obtained from:
Also watch A&E: American Gangster: The Romper Room Gang
Photos collected from Google Images